This article reports on the performance of a bioinformatic analysis of an existing array dataset to determine whether new tissue-specific differentially methylated regions (tDMRs) could be identified for use in body-fluid identification from forensic evidence.
Tissue-specific differentially methylated regions (tDMRs) are regions of the genome with methylation patterns that modulate gene expression in those tissue types. The detection of tDMRs in forensic evidence can permit the identification of body fluids at trace levels. Once these sites were identified in the current study, primers were designed and bisulfite modification was performed. The relative methylation level for each body fluid at a given locus was then determined using qPCR with high-resolution melt analysis (HRM). After screening 127 tDMR's in multiple body fluids, researchers were able to identify four new markers able to discriminate blood (2 markers), vaginal epithelia (1 marker) and buccal cells (1 marker). One marker for each target body fluid was also tested with pyrosequencing showing results consistent with those obtained by HRM. This work successfully demonstrated the ability of in silico analysis to develop a novel set of tDMRs capable of being differentiated by real time PCR/HRM. The method can rapidly determine the body fluids left at crime scenes, assisting the triers of fact in forensic casework. (publisher abstract modified)